Think about the last time you walked through the Food Court at the Mall. What happened? If you didn’t already have a plate in your hand you were ‘toothpicked’ to death. That’s right. You were accosted with toothpicks at each and every restaurant you strolled by. Someone was in front of the restaurant with a tray and sample portions of whatever it was that they offered. They would wave these toothpicks with food samples right in front of your face.
What was their goal? They wanted you to try a sample of what they were offering. They knew that if you tried a sample, chances were good you would like what they had to offer and would make the right decision and buy lunch or dinner from them.
Companies that sell products for the home do the same thing. You can go to your mailbox and each week expect to find a sample of dish washing detergent, laundry soap, dryer sheets, or something else they want you to try.
Why? They want you to become familiar with their product because they know once you try it, you’ll probably like it and purchase it at the store. Anybody that provides a sample to someone else believes in the benefits of what they are selling. They also believe that it’s going to be so good that you will want to come back for a full portion or purchase it later.
Well, you obviously believe in the benefits of project management or you wouldn’t be reading this Blog. You may have found yourself trying to convince others around you (namely your boss) why project management would be right for your department or company. You’ve seen too many people tripping over each other, chaos in the company, and work just plain not getting done.
It’s been frustrating for you and everyone in the department around you. You feel as if implementing a project management program will be the answer to these problems. But there’s resistance. Your boss isn’t crazy about the idea of implementing project management. Why? There are a number of reasons why this could be the case:
- They Feel as if Things Will be Slowed Down: One reason why people are reluctant to adopt a project management methodology in their company is that they are afraid things will get bogged down. They’ve heard horror stories about how approval processes and paperwork have a tendency to bring the project to a grinding halt. Sure, they realize things aren’t perfect the way it is now, but at least they can get something done when they need it to happen without having to jump through a million hoops.
- They Feel as if It Will Cost More: Another reason some may be reluctant to adopt project management is that they feel as if it will cost more. The profit margin numbers are already slim enough as is and adding another person to the mix will only peel off another percentage point or two.
- They Feel as if it Will Remove Spontaneity: Another reason some may be reluctant to implement project management in their company is that they feel as if it will remove spontaneity. Perhaps it’s a creative group of people that are in the company. The argument is that creativity comes in unplanned bursts of brilliance, not scheduled sessions of workshops and breakout groups. They want to keep this vibe going because that’s what made the department or company so successful up to this point.
Overcome Concerns by Offering a Project Management Sample
That’s right….a project management sample. You can implement just enough of a project management framework to give your boss, managers, or others in the department a taste of what project management can do on their behalf. You believe enough in the benefits of project management and know that they will like the project management sample so much they will want more.
What would be good to include in a project management sample? The following are some suggestions of just enough project management documentation, process, and methodology that won’t be overwhelming but still give a taste of project management in the company.
- Scope Document: Start with a scope document, or some semblance thereof. This is the document that outlines what it is that needs to be accomplished by this project and how it will be done. Now, you don’t want to come up with a 25-page document that starts out with Version History and Reasons for this Document and all kinds of other meta-data about the scope doc itself. No, you want to get right the purpose of the document and that is to outline what is going to be built.
Have a conversation with your boss or the client about the project and write down their thoughts. Include it in a scope document that is just a page or two long. Outline what needs to be accomplished, how it will be accomplished, who needs to be involved and perhaps some high-level dates and estimated dollar figures. Be sure to have a place for a signature as well. This is really the important part of offering this project management sample that someone commits to what is being done and how far encompassing this project is.
- High-Level Project Plan: Now that you have an approved scope document in place you can move on to a high-level project plan for your project management sample. The first one can be as simple as a spreadsheet that shows the activity name, resource responsible, how long it’s expected to take, and the current status.
You won’t need to get into network diagrams, or work breakdown structures, or finish-to-start dependencies…unless you want your reluctant boss to spit out the project management sample. Keep it simple. Just enough to plot a course for the project and not too much to bury it in the dirt.
- Weekly Status Meeting: The next element of a project management sample is the weekly (or regular) status meeting. Take this opportunity to review what was done over the past week, what needs to be done next, and if there are any issues in the way of the project moving forward. Spend some time on what could go wrong (aka Risk Management) and ask for suggestions along the way to mitigate these risks.
- Lessons Learned: The final piece of the project management sample is to spend some time at the end and reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Then, apply this toward your next project management sample as you introduce a little more methodology each time.
That’s a nice project management sample. Four components of project management that you can subtly introduce to your boss and department. You will most likely want to include a light version of change control management in the mix as well to account for when the project changes course.
It wasn’t obtrusive at all, didn’t slow things down, cost more, or take away from the creativity and spontaneity of the department. Guess what? You don’t even have to tell them it’s a project management sample. Just say you would like to try something different on the next project and implement the process above. Before you know it they’ll be coming by for your Szechuan Chicken 5 days a week!